as part of The Good Life or Cursive, Kasher's music is draped in
solemn despair. He sings about break-ups, betrayals, longing and
regret, in the voice of a solitary, lonely man who, deep down, knows
what he wants and never seems to find it in others or himself.
Cursive's fourth full-length
CD, The Ugly Organ, underscores these trials. Again Kasher
delves into his personal nightmares, this time from a voice that
screams from deep inside. Unlike their last full-length, Domestica,
which was written like a one-act play documenting the lies, hate
and deceit associated with a divorce, The Ugly Organ is a
series of internal monologues that reflects insecurities and self-doubt
amidst the turmoil of life on an ever-turning emotional carousel.
Musically, the material
is as brutal as ever. The CD opens with wonky carnival organ and
the ravings of a ragged circus barker before kicking into the usual
Cursive bombast. The band's distinctive sound centers on a rhythm
section honed like a jeweler's-quality precision timepiece, consisting
of bassist Matt Maginn and drummer Clint Schnase. If there is a
core sound beyond Kasher's lamenting vocals and Ted Stevens' guitar
thunder, it is the rhythm section's muscular, staccato power, the
almost mathematical conciseness created by these two time-smiths
gorging on the explosiveness of their instruments.
Within the past couple
years, Gretta Cohn's cello has been added as a counter-punch to
Maginn and Schnase's sharp shotgun blasts. Never before has she
played a more prominent role in Cursive's heavyweight shadowboxing.
"The whole band
is such a strong unit," Kasher said. "There's virtually
no arguing about where everyone's place is in the songs. We all
work around each other, and are overly expressive where it's appropriate.
"With Gretta, we
recognize the importance of making space for her, to emphasize that
instrument. For a band that's so jerky and staccato, it's nice to
have a strong, sweeping instrument to flow through everything."
Critics seem to agree.
According to Cursive's label, Saddle Creek Records, Rolling Stone
has given The Ugly Organ a 4-star rating, while Alternative
Press rated the CD a perfect 5 out of 5.
Lyrically, the CD is
a quasi concept album, though Kasher says that was never the intention
when the band wrote the songs. "This one is more conceptualized,
which is funny because that was something we tried not to do,"
he said. "The songs have a strong relationship to each other,
like on our other records. It has a self-analyzing aspect that we're
not strangers to."
Sometimes the lyrics
are so personal, it's hard not to assume they're rooted in reality.
Others have made similar assumptions, which Kasher acknowledges
on "Some Red Handed Slight of Hand":
It's no use to keep
Everything I hide ends up in lyrics
So read it all and accuse me when you're done
If it sounds like I did you wrong.
"It's a problem
with songwriting in general and the lyrics I write," Kasher
said. "There are a lot of people who are reading themselves
into it and getting pissed and confused. You try to maintain your
writing without having to make apologies to anyone or having to
explain everything. I'm big on not bashing people through music
-- that's a real shallow way to seek revenge. At the same time,
when you're dealing with aggressive content and frustration between
lovers, people can feel that they are getting attacked. I insist
that I'm only attacking myself."
you're dealing with aggressive content and frustration between
lovers, people can feel that they are getting attacked. I
insist that I'm only attacking myself."